Press Releases

Congressional Black Caucus Leads U.S.-Mexico Border Trip to Meet with African Immigrants

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Washington, November 26, 2019 | comments

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) issued the following statement following a border trip to Tijuana, Mexico, to meet with Black immigrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. The trip was led by CBC Chair Karen Bass (CA-37) and included Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Yvette Clarke (NY-09), as well as Representative Juan Vargas (CA-51), who represents the U.S. side of the border.

“There is an untold story woven into the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Most Americans are well aware of the impact of the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies on people fleeing Latin and Central American countries. What they may not know is there are hundreds of immigrants from African and African diaspora countries fleeing violence, traveling for months on foot across harsh terrain, only to find a broken system at the U.S.-Mexico border blocking any further advancement. In fact, there are record numbers of African immigrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border, particularly as Europe closes its doors to migrants. After the threat of U.S. tariffs, Mexico began holding asylum seekers, including those from African countries, in a country they do not know speaking a language they do not understand. The process used to determine who receives an appointment for asylum review is complicated by language barriers that prevent African migrants from fully participating.

"With the support of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Members of the CBC met with more than 30 migrants from African and African diaspora countries, including Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Jamaica. The vast majority, however, were from Cameroon, a nation in turmoil as Anglophone regions remain trapped in a cycle of violence. Migrants shed light on the desperate conditions back home that caused them to flee in the first place, including violence against the LGBTQ community. They also shared harrowing stories of the brutal trek from South American countries like Ecuador and Colombia, including the many corpses they passed along the way. Migrants protested the racially-motivated mistreatment they faced at the hands of government officials, including in Mexico, such as segregated food lines and the denial of medical care for pregnant women in labor at immigration detention centers.

Following the border trip, Chair Bass led an Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee field hearing highlighting the humanitarian needs of the migrant crisis at the border.

The Congressional Black Caucus is extremely concerned about the treatment of all migrants seeking asylum, including those from African and African diaspora countries, and will continue to lift up the voices of these vulnerable people. Chair Bass is committed to organizing a CODEL to enlighten more members on this critical issue and continue to highlight this international crisis.”

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